This blog was formerly called 'Horn Ensemble Around the World". It was initiated as part of Advanced Brass Ensemble Literature course at School of Music, University of Iowa for Spring 2017. Since the class is over, I would like to write about other stuff too rather than horn related. So I decided to change the title to "Horns and Other Topics!" or HOT!
I would love to hear your comments and thoughts!
Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Interview Series: German Hornsound
Welcome to the first life after "horn ensemble from around worlds" era post!
The first HOT's topic today is part of "Interview Series" where I would share some interviews that I made throughout the year. These interviews were, again, part of some of the courses I took last year. There were, of course, some requirement or theme but it didn't stop me from wanting to know a little more in the area that I would learn and would be good for other people to know as well! So far, I have 7 interviews in stock and I will slowly post them by the end of July!
(L to R. Stephan
Schottstädt, Timo Steininger, Sebastian
Schorr, and Christoph
Why do I interest in them?
was doing some research online, a Facebook video of the ensemble’sinterviewin Hong Kong came up. I have learned of this ensemble probably last year or
two years ago through, again, a Facebook video (see below). It was one of their creative
performance (acting + performing with narrator). Since I am interested in
finding different ways in giving performance, I decided to interview them. I
was also quite confident that they would at least response to my message on
either Facebook or e-mail as they are active on social media. They replied my
message within one day to let me know that they are agreed to do the interview.
As the ensemble is becoming more successful it would be interesting to learn
about administrative and management aspects rather than rehearsal and
performing aspects. Besides, don't you want to know any other horn quartets apart from the American Horn Quartet? Hence, my questions are based on above idea.
Here is a brief history of the ensemble.
The German Hornsound is a horn quartet base in Germany. The ensemble was founded in 2009 (according to their website but 2010 according to its member) by four international recognized German hornists who graduates from Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart, studying under Prof. Christian Lampert. The ensemble have appeared in many music festivals in German speaking country and have recently made successful debut performances in Asia.
Apart performing original works or arrangements for horn quartet, the German Hornsound is famous for developing their own program. In 2013, the ensemble developed “Siegfried & Violeta“ a three-act opera fragment based on theme by Verdi and Wagner for four horns and speakers. They have commissioned and premiered a new work for four horns and orchestra by Oliver Tardy in the same year.
(You may choose to skip this summary for a full script of the interview which can be found below this summary)
interview questions were answered by Christoph Eß who is a member of the
group as well as acting as a group manager. It is to learn that the group was
formed not with an idea to have a professional group but rather to have fun
making music together. After
gave their first performances in 2011/2012 season, they became famous (partly
due to their profiles and reputations, I believe)and started to
have more engagement where they reach about 30 concerts a year.Their
ensemble philosophy is a homogenous and warm French Horn sound combined with their
own creative concept productions. Since they came from the same teacher, it is
not too difficult for them to have a similar concept of sound to achieve the
homogenous sound. Concepts, however, can be different. The ensemble take their
friendship as a priority. When different opinions occur, they solve their
differences by talking together. This diminish communication problems.
The ensemble registered as a
company and became official in 2013 when they reached 20 concert a year. Apart
from Crownfunding their first recording in 2012, German Hornsound’s
budget comes from benefits of their merchandises, productions, and other
investments. This proves how succesful they are.Part of
their success comes from their creativity and originality in
their programming. Not only playing standard repertoire or arrangement for horn
quartets, they create a theme performance around different arrangements such as
Siengfried und Violetta: Opera fragment based on arrangement from music of
Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi or program for children - “Wie die Musik um ein Haar
flöten ging” and “Auf die Hörner, fertig, los!” where we play the music
and act the roles. Apart from performing in concert halls, German Hornsound
also oftenly perform in school during music lessons. Not only the students
would be excited about the instrument, it is a chance to meet the future
generation and to obtain their interest in classical music so they can continue
support classical music. The group think that, this should be a duty.
aspect is to be active in social media in order to maintain an interesting
image to audience as well as concert promoters, and agencies. It can be short
video clips, pictures, or stories. Personally, I think they have used it
effectively. The advantage of having full-time orchestra jobs provide them
opportunity to take more risks in experimenting new things. Since their are
fewer horn quartets out there especially after American Horn Quartet has
retired, they wish to bring French Horn music to the audiences and to show how
wonderful the instrument can be.
Their last word of advice is “Every musician is different.
You have to find your own way of playing an instrument and performing concerts.
You have to do this with self-confidence, but never stop learning from other
I would like to sincerely thanks Christoph Eßand the German Hornsound for their time and for sharing their experiences. And to my dear reader, I would love to hear your thought!
See you next post!
Full interview transcript with German Hornsound
1. How was the ensemble started? What was the
aim? What is your ensemble philosophy?
The ensemble was
founded by four german graduates of the French Horn Class of Prof. Christian
Lampert at the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart in 2010.
Actually, the original idea was to spend more time together, to have fun and
make music. After we finished our
studies, we drifted apart in four different cities; Berlin, Bamberg, Hannover
and Reutlingen and didn’t see each other very often. So we organized a few
concerts in 2011/2012. We never expected to go this far of having about 30
concerts a year. Our ensemble philosophy is a homogenous and warm French horn
sound combined our own creative concept productions.
2. Were there any official process of setting
up an ensemble? If so, what were they? Did you have to register it as an
organization? Is it easier to set up a professional ensemble in Germany? Who
runs the ensemble?
The ensemble became official in 2013 when we
reached the level of more than 20
concerts a year. We had to register as a
Company. All four of us are equal partners in the company.
3. How are you being funded or supported? Is
the ensemble being funded per year? Do you need to find your own sponsorships
We just took a chance on Crowdfunding for our
first recording in 2012. Since then ,the ensemble hasn't need any patrons or
sponsorships and we take the expenses and investments for our productions,
merchandising, tours e.g. out of our own incomes.
4. Why should there be another professional
horn quartet? What make a successful ensemble?
That is a good question. In our opinion,
there are not many Horn quartets, which perform as frequently as we do. Most of
the existing quartets are members of orchestral horn sections which perform
only a few concerts per year.
Our aim is to create original programs and
tour through Germany and Overseas. Since the American Horn Quartet has retired,
there are fewer quartets.
You can be successful with this special
Instrumentation, when you take a chance at offering interesting programs to the
festival and concert series promoters.
5. What is your thought process in creating a
performance program? How do you manage your relationship with different types
of audience? (I was really impressed by watching your
"Wie die Musik um ein Haar flöten ging" Video!)
We offer quite a lot of different programs.
On the one hand there are soloistic pieces for four horns and Orchestra. We
often played Schumann concert piece and the new piece written for us in 2013 by
Tragve Madsen. Then we have our concept programs (sometimes with singers, with
actors, with authors).
We have two different education programs for
children (“Wie die Musik um ein Haar flöten ging” and “Auf die Hörner, fertig,
los!”) where we play the music and act the roles. And last but not least, we
have programs just for horn quartet.
But the creation process for all our programs
is begun by thinking about which music is arrangeable for our instruments. Then we create the program around the
arrangements. Each of us takes part in the process of making the arrangements,
the stories, art work and marketing.
6. What was your latest experience in Asia
like? Are there any differences between audience there and in Europe? What else
did you learn?
Our debut in Asia two weeks ago in Hongkong
and Taipei was absolutely amazing. We had three fantastic concerts. The
audience was very friendly and polite. Almost all of them wanted to have
pictures with us, and they bought our CDs and merchandising products with our
autograms. We met wonderful people and learned that the French Horn society all
over the World has a strong sense of togetherness.
7. As a musician, are there any benefits from
involving with or taking part in different community? If so, what do you think the ensemble role is
in the community?
We are very often playing in schools during
the Music lessons. The young pupil are very excited about the French Horn,
about Classical Music in general, about being a professional Musician. And also
for us there is a big benefit to meet the future generation directly which we
absolutely need tob e interested in classical music, to go into the concerts.
For any ensemble this should be a duty!
8. As social media has become part of today’s
life; how important it is to be active online? Would this model change in the
That is something we also learned last year,
especially with our contacts in Asia.
Being active online and in social media is very important. You should keep your
followers always up to date with little videos, pictures, and stories. But it
is also important to keep concert promoters and agencies up to date and
maintain an interesting image.
9. What are the problems that the ensemble
has encountered so far and how do you solve them?
For us, the friendship between the four of us
is a priority. That is our basis and is still a constant factor. So, we don't
have communication problems. Of course we have different opinions in some
things but we always solve our differencses with direct communication.
Sometimes we have, of course, musical
decisions to make. There are different ways of playing, of articulating, and of
phrasing. But we always reach a solution and solve these problems by talking
10. What is the ensemble goal for the next 20
– 30 years?
Of course we want to maintain it as it is. We
have one big advantage compared to string quartets or other famous chamber
music ensembles and that is ,we have our orchestra jobs and can play quartet just
for fun on the side. So sometimes we take more risks in investmenting in some
crazy things for our productions. Our experience has shown that effort (time,
money, ideas) is always worth it. We want to bring French Horn Music to the
audiences and show how wonderful our instrument can be!
11. Any word of advices for young
professional musicians who are about to go to into a ‘real’ world?
Every musician is different. You have to find your own way of
playing an instrument and performing concerts. You have to do this with
self-confidence, but never stop learning from other great musicians.
P.S. I was told that I forgot to give an answer to the trivia I wrote from Feb 2, 2017 post. Here we go!
The highest note from orchestral literature is the E above high C which can be found in R. Strauss' Sinfonia Domestica, Op. 53 and the lowest note is the pedal E that can be found in D. Shostakovich Symphony no. 5! (however, I have a feeling that my answers might not be up to dated any more. So, I don't mind if I am wrong so that I can learn something new!)